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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Association for Psychological Science takes a hard stand against criminal justice reform

Here’s the full quote, from an article to be published in one of our favorite academic journals: The prescriptive values of highly educated groups (such as secularism, but also libertarianism, criminal justice reform, and unrestricted sociosexuality, among others) may work for groups that are highly cognitively sophisticated and self-controlled, but they may be injurious to […]

Age-period-cohort analysis.

Chris Winship and Ethan Fosse write with a challenge: Since its beginnings nearly a century ago, Age-Period-Cohort analysis has been stymied by the lack of identification of parameter estimates resulting from the linear dependence between age, period, and cohort (age= period – cohort). In a series of articles, we [Winship and Fosse] have developed a […]

Here’s what academic social, behavioral, and economic scientists should be working on right now.

In a recent comment thread on the lack of relevance of academic social and behavioral science to the current crisis, Terry writes: We face a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the existing literature gives mostly vapid-sounding guidance. Take this gem at the beginning of the article: One of the central emotional responses during a pandemic is fear. […]

2 perspectives on the relevance of social science to our current predicament: (1) social scientists should back off, or (2) social science has a lot to offer

Perspective 1: Social scientists should back off This is what the political scientist Anthony Fowler wrote the other day: The public appetite for more information about Covid-19 is understandably insatiable. Social scientists have been quick to respond. . . . While I understand the impulse, the rush to publish findings quickly in the midst of […]

“Stay-at-home” behavior: A pretty graph but I have some questions

Or, should I say, a pretty graph and so have some questions. It’s a positive property of a graph that it makes you want to see more. Clare Malone and Kyle Bourassa write: Cuebiq, a private data company, assessed the movement of people via GPS-enabled mobile devices across the U.S. If you look at movement […]

“Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel”

I read this book by Leah Garrett and I liked it a lot. Solid insights on Joseph Heller, Saul Bellow, and Norman Mailer, of course, but also the now-forgotten Irwin Shaw (see here and here) and Herman Wouk. Garrett’s discussion of The Caine Mutiny was good: she takes it seriously, enough to point out its […]

“1919 vs. 2020”

We had this discussion the other day about a questionable claim regarding the effects of social distancing policies during the 1918/1919 flu epidemic, and then I ran across this post by Erik Loomis who compares the social impact of today’s epidemic to what happened 102 years ago: It’s really remarkable to me [Loomis] that the […]

“Curing Coronavirus Isn’t a Job for Social Scientists”

Anthony Fowler wrote a wonderful op-ed. You have to read the whole thing, but let me start with his most important point, about “the temptation to overclaim” in social science: One study estimated the economic value of the people spared through social-distancing efforts. Essentially, the authors took estimates from epidemiologists about the number of lives […]

Reverse-engineering priors in coronavirus discourse

Last week we discussed the Santa Clara county study, in which 1.5% of the people tested positive for coronavirus. The authors of the study performed some statistical adjustments and summarized with a range of 2.5% to 4.2% for infection rates in the county as a whole, leading to an estimated infection fatality rate of 0.12% […]

The return of the red state blue state fallacy

Back in the early days of this blog, we had frequent posts about the differences between Republican or Democratic voters and Republican or Democratic areas. This was something that confused lots of political journalists, most notably Michael Barone (see, for example, here) and Tucker Carlson (here), also academics such as psychologist Jonathan Haidt (here) and […]

10 on corona

Here are some things people have sent me lately. They are in no particular order, except that I put the last item last so we could end with some humor. After this, I’ll write a few more blog posts, then it’ll be time to do some real work. Table of contents 1. Suspicious coronavirus numbers […]

MRP with R and Stan; MRP with Python and Tensorflow

Lauren and Jonah wrote this case study which shows how to do Mister P in R using Stan. It’s a great case study: it’s not just the code for setting up and fitting the multilevel model, it also discusses the poststratification data, graphical exploration of the inferences, and alternative implementations of the model. Adam Haber […]

The best coronavirus summary so far

I’d still go with this article by Ed Yong, which covers biology, epidemiology, medicine, and politics. Here’s one bit: In 2018, when writing about whether the U.S. was ready for the next pandemic, I [Yong] noted that the country was trapped in a cycle of panic and neglect. It rises to meet each new disease, […]

“The Evidence and Tradeoffs for a ‘Stay-at-Home’ Pandemic Response: A multidisciplinary review examining the medical, psychological, economic and political impact of ‘Stay-at-Home’ implementation in America”

Will Marble writes: I’m a Ph.D. student in political science at Stanford. Along with colleagues from the Stanford medical school, law school, and elsewhere, we recently completed a white paper evaluating the evidence for and tradeoffs involved with shelter-in-place policies. To our knowledge, our paper contains the widest review of the relevant covid-19 research. It […]

I’m frustrated by the politicization of the coronavirus discussion. Here’s an example:

Flavio Bartmann writes: Over the last few days, as COVID-19 posed some serious issues for policy makers who, both in the US and elsewhere, have employed statistical models to develop mitigation strategies, a number of non-statisticians have criticized the use of such models as useless or worse. A typical example is this article by Victor […]

“America is used to blaming individuals for systemic problems. Let’s try to avoid that this time.”

I like this news article by Aviva Shen: In normal times, policing has been America’s primary response to a host of societal ills that cannot be solved by punishment. Homelessness, mental illness, violence, racism, poverty, and toxic masculinity are all fed through the criminal justice system, rather than getting addressed in any meaningful way, never […]

Big trouble coming with the 2020 Census

OK, first things first. For readers of this blog who live in the United States: Don’t forget to fill out your census. They’re doing in online, and you should’ve received a letter in the mail last month telling you how to do it. And now the news. Dr. Z points us to this post by […]

Conference on Mister P online tomorrow and Saturday, 3-4 Apr 2020

We have a conference on multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) this Friday and Saturday, organized by Lauren Kennedy, Yajuan Si, and me. The conference was originally scheduled to be at Columbia but now it is online. Here is the information. If you want to join the conference, you must register for it ahead of time; […]

“How to be Curious Instead of Contrarian About COVID-19: Eight Data Science Lessons From Coronavirus Perspective”

Rex Douglass writes: I direct the Machine Learning for Social Science Lab at the Center for Peace and Security Studies, UCSD. I’ve been struggling with how non-epidemiologists should contribute to COVID-19 questions right now, and I wrote a short piece that summarizes my thoughts. 8 data science suggestions For people who want to use theories […]

Breaking the feedback loop: When people don’t correct their errors

OK, so here’s the pattern: 1. Someone makes a public statement with an error, an error that advances some political or personal agenda. 2. Some other people point out the error. 3. The original author refuses to apologize, or correct the error, or thank people for pointing out the error, and sometimes they don’t even […]